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Editorial Jan 19th 2018

Welcome to this week’s editorial, Summer is here again and with it comes the annual influx of visitors to the South Coast. Earlier this week I wrote a lengthy opinion piece on the Beagle website titled When does #unspoilt become #spoilt that has a very close look at the impact that tourism has on our coastal communities. At this time of year the numbers swell, the demands are considerable and it all reminds me of the annual coming of the koels that see the local “parents” having to tend to oversized, squarking and very demanding chicks that take all they can and once supped leave again, only to return next season and do it all over again. Year in and year out we know they are coming, we know they will cause chaos when they are here upturning the nest and make it their own but we still invite them with open arms knowing of the consequences, leaving us once again at the end of the season to shake our heads and pick up all the garbage. But unlike a koel chick the summer visitors are welcomed by most because they bring money with them. Money to contribute to sustaining our local businesses and local families for the lean year that waits for them between seasons. The locals who dislike visitors the most are mainly our retirees. Happily settled with their nearly-assured incomes they would prefer that the summer negatives stay away and that our quiet little backwater stays quiet and undiscovered. While tourism is a much needed boost for our local economy and essential for the thousands of jobs that rely directly or indirectly from the influx it comes at a cost that many are beginning to ponder …. When does #unspoilt become #spoilt? The impact to the Shoalhaven is already being realised with visitors being turned away from popular “secluded” beaches simply because there is no parking and few facilities. In Milton and Ulladulla the summer traffic crawls, often sitting banked up in queues kilometres long. Shoalhaven is now the most popular destination in NSW outside of Sydney. Sydney has finally discovered, via very effective marketing, that the South Coast is accessible with an improved highway and that it is far less visited and #spoilt than the now #saturated and #overpriced #northcoast What’s with the #hashtags? #hashtags are what now drives marketing. Facebook posts promoting anything from a café to a resort, a beach to an activity includes a #hashtag – as does Instagram – an example Come #explore #unspoilt #eurobodalla on the #southcoast when you #visitnsw to #discover #beaches, #oysters, #kayaking, #peace, #nature, #seals at #montagueisland and the nightlife of #batemansbay, #moruya and #narooma. Include a stunning and seductive photo and within seconds that image is carried around the world into the device feed of 100’s of thousands of switched-on followers of those hashtags all interested in an #unspoilt #holiday Unfortunately for #hyamsbeach in the #shoalhaven it is now #ontrend as being the #whitest and most #pristine #empty #beach in #australia and because of this the little sleepy village of around 110 people is now #swamped for around six months of the year. With such publicity and reputation comes the #paininthearse of day visitors parking anywhere, and pooing and peeing wherever even though the Council have bought in rangers to assist with parking and port-a-loos to help with the “other demands”. The #locals are #nothappyShoalhaven Council has responded quite cleverly by running a #100beaches tourism campaign to encourage visitors to the 99 other beaches along their coastline to spread the visitor impact. In recent years the numbers of visitors coming to the Shoalhaven has rapidly increased. Not just by more informed Sydneyites but also from the ever increasing Canberra numbers who make an annual exodus to the South Coast and are now able to enjoy the improved access into the Shoalhaven via the upgraded Nerriga Road. Many of these visitors once holidayed in the Eurobodalla, driving the more torturous route via the Clyde Mountain, however, courtesy of the newly upgraded, Federally funded, Nerriga Road that now connects Braidwood to Nowra, the Canberrites and the many others from the South West have a choice of two South Coast destinations and the Shoalhaven is #flavourofthemonth over #eurobodalla with its #diversity, #facilities, #activities and #amenities and also because of the very clever and effective marketing of #visitshoalhaven in Social Media.Fortunately, or unfortunately, the word #eurobodalla isn’t #ontrend in Social Media and, try as one might, any publicity or marketing using the word #eurobodalla falls flat on its face. To many locals that is a saving grace to ensure the area remains #undiscovered and #unspoilt. We are also seasonal. This means the summer influx is a massive upward spike in demand that pushes our infrastructure to maximum. Sewers work overtime, parking is pushed to its maximum, cafes and accommodation swell with the demand and our garbage collection goes galactic with domestic pickups and from public reserve and street bins that are often filled to overflowing. With that population increase comes the spike in crime with theft, graffiti, vandalism, drunkenness and violence. There is also the increase in littering from fishing-bait bags in waterways to soiled nappies in our bushes. But still we need their custom because it is how many of our locals feed their families and pay their mortgages. The reality is that the Eurobodalla has tourism as a primary industry. The area relies heavily on tourism and there is little alternate industry on the horizon other than in health care and ancillary services for our aging population. We therefore have to promote ourselves in the tourism market place to ensure we remain economically viable and sustainable as a community and that we get our fair share of the tourism dollars available from visitors and from Government handouts. What do we want that for ourselves? Are we on the path to where our once #unspoilt will soon be #spoilt and do we choose instead to not reveal how incredible our coastline is in Social Media and advertising campaigns in-case THEY #come and #discover, then #tweet and #upload. In the end our need of economy always wins. Until next, lei

#LeiParker #Editorial #Opinion #Weekly

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